On "A Book to Burn and a Book to Keep (Hidden)" - Haun Saussy, Rivi Handler-Spitz and Pauline C. Lee with Judith Zetilin

Friday, October 28, 2016 - 5:30pm - 7:00pm

The translators of a new anthology of the writings of late-Ming essayist, thinker, and troublemaker Li Zhi will discuss the collection with Judith Zeitlin.

Presented in partnership with the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations; Department of Comparative Literature; Center for East Asian Studies; and Committee on Social Thought

At the Co-op


About the book: Li Zhi's iconoclastic interpretations of history, religion, literature, and social relations have fascinated Chinese intellectuals for centuries. His approach synthesized Confucian, Buddhist, and Daoist ethics and incorporated the Neo-Confucian idealism of such thinkers as Wang Yangming (1472–1529). The result was a series of heretical writings that caught fire among Li Zhi's contemporaries, despite an imperial ban on their publication, and intrigued Chinese audiences long after his death.
Translated for the first time into English, Li Zhi's bold challenge to established doctrines will captivate anyone curious about the origins of such subtly transgressive works as the sixteenth-century play The Peony Pavilion or the eighteenth-century novel Dream of the Red Chamber. In A Book to Burn and a Book to Keep (Hidden), Li Zhi confronts accepted ideas about gender, questions the true identity of history's heroes and villains, and offers his own readings of Confucius, Laozi, and the Buddha. Fond of vivid sentiment and sharp expression, Li Zhi made no distinction between high and low literary genres in his literary analysis. He refused to support sanctioned ideas about morality and wrote stinging social critiques. Li Zhi praised scholars who risked everything to expose extortion and misrule. In this sophisticated translation, English-speaking readers encounter the best of this heterodox intellectual's vital contribution to Chinese thought and culture.

About Haun Saussy: Haun Saussy is University Professor at the University of Chicago, where he teaches in Comparative Literature, East Asian Languages, and the Committee on Social Thought. His books include The Problem of a Chinese Aesthetic (Stanford, 1993), Great Walls of Discourse and Other Adventures in Cultural China (Harvard Asia Center, 2001), The Ethnography of Rhythm: Orality and Its Technologies (Fordham, 2016). He has edited Comparative Literature in an Era of Globalization (Johns Hopkins, 2006), Partner to the Poor: A Paul Farmer Reader (California, 2008), and other collections. He participates in the collective blog www.printculture.com.

About Rivi Handler-Spitz: Rivi Handler-Spitz studies Chinese and comparative literature and early modern cultural history. Her monograph, Symptoms of an Unruly Age: Li Zhi and Cultures of Early Modernity, will appear in spring, 2017 (University of Washington Press). She teaches at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

About Pauline Lee: Pauline Lee joined Saint Louis University in the department of Theological Studies in 2013. She received her A.B. (English Literature, honors in Humanities, 1991) from Stanford University, her M.T.S. (Comparative Religions, 1995) from Harvard Divinity School, and her Ph.D. (Religious Studies, minor in Philosophy, 2002) from Stanford University. She teaches East Asian religions and philosophy with courses in Chinese thought, Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, East Asian women and feminisms, Chinese Civilization, world religions, and children’s studies. Previous to her current position, she has taught at Santa Clara University and Washington University. Her first monograph, Li Zhi, Confucianism, and the Virtue of Desire (State University of New York Press, 2012), examines the 16th century iconoclast Li Zhi 李贄 and his views on the role of self-expression and desire in a good life. In the Journal of Chinese Religions, Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy, the Journal of Chinese Philosophy, and edited volumes on women and Chinese thought she has published in the areas of Chinese feminisms, space and place, Chinese conceptions of childhood, and comparative religions and philosophy. With Rivi Handler-Spitz and Haun Saussy she has collaborated on the first book-length English language translation of Li Zhi’s writings, A Book to Burn and A Book to Keep (Hidden) (Columbia UP, June 2016). Her second monograph, provisionally entitled Play in China: The Trifling, the Wicked, and the Sacred (SUNY Press), examines changing views of play in China from ca. 200-1800 CE through a study of Chinese religious and philosophical classics, the rich but too often neglected tradition of commentaries on these works, as well as paintings and playthings. Her current interests include religious pluralism and intercultural dialogue at the intersection of Christianity and 16th-19th century China; with Filippo Marsili she has established at Saint Louis University "The Matteo Ricci Speakers Series (2014-2018)" and “The Matteo Ricci Religious Pluralism Project (2016-2020).”

About Judith T. Zeitlin: Judith T. Zeitlin is a professor in Chinese literature and East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Her areas of interest are Ming-Qing literary and cultural history, with specialties in the classical tale and drama.

About the Department of East Asian Languages: The Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations(EALC) at The University of Chicago is at the forefront of innovative humanistic approaches to the study of China, Japan, and Korea, past and present. Faculty specializations range from ancient paleography to contemporary cinema but interdisciplinary and interregional paths of inquiry are strongly encouraged.

About the Department of Comparative Literature: The Department of Comparative Literature promotes the multidisciplinary, historically self-reflective and cross-cultural study of texts, traditions, and discourses.

About the Center for East Asian Studies: The Center for East Asian Studies (CEAS) and its three Committees - the Committee on Japanese Studies, the Committee on Chinese Studies, and the Committee on Korean Studies - work to enhance opportunities available to scholars both in the United States and abroad, and to foster communication and inter-disciplinary collaboration among the community of professors and students at the University of Chicago and throughout the wider East Asian Studies community.

About the Committee on Social Thought: The John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought is an interdisciplinary, Ph.D. granting graduate program. Its guiding principle is that the serious study of many academic topics, and of many philosophical, historical, theological and literary works, is best prepared for by a wide and deep acquaintance with the fundamental issues presupposed in all such studies, that students should learn about these issues by acquainting themselves with a select number of major ancient and modern texts in an inter- disciplinary atmosphere, and should only then begin intense work on a specific dissertation topic.




Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op Bookstore
5751 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637